Tuesday, August 13, 2013

OWN doing battle with Kum & Go

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 12:15 PM

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The Kum & Go war continues.

Welling Clark, president of the Organization of Westside Neighbors and husband to El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark, is stepping up his game in an effort to prevent a large gas station from being built in the heart of the Old Colorado City historic district.

Kum & Go wants to build on the property currently occupied by a defunct Goodwill Industries building. The plan has been met with a lot of resistance from neighbors and business owners who fear the gas station would have detrimental effects on the neighborhood.

OWN has sided with the naysayers, and Welling Clark recently penned the following letter to city leaders:

Honorable City Council, Mayor, and Planning Commission of Colorado Springs:

As President of the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN), I regularly apprise you of events occurring in the Westside Neighborhood Strategy Area.

With the help of the City of Colorado Springs, OWN was created in 1978 to:
· Inform residents of the Westside of their rights and of the impact of governmental and commercial actions upon their lives.
· Facilitate the provision of needed goods and services for the residents of the Westside.
· Sponsor activities on the Westside which reinforce community spirit and citizen initiative.
· Communicate to government officials the concerns of Westside residents and residential property owners.

One recent and significant event is the redevelopment proposal for the Goodwill Industries property between 23rd and 24th Sts., on the south side of Colorado Ave. Kum & Go, a privately-held, Iowa-based convenience store chain well-known for quietly acquiring such tax-exempt properties through cash-in-hand offers, may be seeking approval for a 5,000 square-foot convenience store and 20-pump gas station comprising almost the entire city block.

OWN is on record with our determination that this potential redevelopment is inappropriate for the location. This potential development does not further the Westside’s longstanding urban revitalization and heritage tourism plans. It offends the local residents’ enjoyment of their homes. It generates no synergy with the pedestrian-friendly businesses and rich western heritage of the Old Colorado City area.

In addition, I want you know to know that many local residents and businesses are outraged by this proposal, and you should expect a strong and sustained public outcry. A year ago the local residents and businesses were presented a project that was harmonious and compatible with the Old Colorado City historic district, only to be informed abruptly two months ago of the present proposal. They feel betrayed.

You will be receiving significant communication from local residents and businesses via email messages, social media, telephone calls, postal letters, petitions, and lawful displays of public opposition. Personal opinions and factual arguments on this issue will concern:

· Quality-of-life issues for voters;
· City-approved plans for urban infill, which were drafted to respect local history and to increase neighborhood vitality;
· Land Use Review process requirements for this development;
· Feasible alternatives for redevelopment, including private investment options and potential public incentives; and,
· Longer-term and conforming vision for the Westside tourism corridor.

OWN can assist your staff in consolidating the public policy and legal arguments raised by the residents, businesses, and organizations that I represent; so these are communicated correctly, clearly, and concisely for your deliberations. Also, I will convey their fervent opinions, although you’re likely to hear these yourselves directly.

As an organization that has represented Westside interests and guided Westside development for decades, OWN does not take lightly its decision to oppose this proposal. Doing so is no indictment of Kum & Go specifically, or a stand against corporate business in general. We respect and support the property rights of all involved parties -- potential investors as well as current businesses and residents -- and do not advocate the diminishment of any liberties.

We welcome and encourage all business entities to invest in the Westside experience according to the Westside Plan, just as we promote patronage by our Westside neighbors at all businesses willing to invest their money, time, effort, and skills to make our community a better place for all. We recognize the synergies that a respected, principled, charitable, and successful corporation such as Kum & Go will bring to this city. We see other locations along Colorado Avenue, still within the Westside, that are probably even better alternatives to the current site.

It is our sincere desire that the concerns of the residents are strongly considered and that we are able to forge a productive and workable solution for all.

By the direction of the board,
Welling Clark
President, Organization of Westside Neighbors

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